The Campaign For Real Monopoly

I am so 100% in favor of this. I really like Monopoly, but no one else does. I like playing it by the rules, but everyone is always surprised and confused by property auctions, and people insist on stupid rules like money for free parking. When played properly, using the actual rules, the game is much more interesting. I didn’t know about the two house rules often used at tournaments, but now that I do I am going to insist on them.

Americans are moving up to smaller, smarter homes

Suddenly our new 1,800 sq. ft. home feels positively decadent. I’ve been spending a lot of time perusing Sarah Susanka’s books and drawing up plans. Her initial work seemed generally targeted at highly affluent people who could afford extravagant new McMansions. She tries to convince them to downsize by 1/3 or so on raw square footage and instead put the money into building rich detailing into their new homes by spending more per square foot. Her later books talk about remodeling existing smaller or older houses to make them more livable, which is more relevant to Meghan and I. Not So Big Remodeling is fast becoming my home renovation bible. If this is going to work, I’m going to need to become much more handy around the house!

I’m slipping away a bit at a time… and all I can do is watch it happen

Author Terry Pratchett speaks out about his Alzheimer’s diagnosis, and what it means to his life. He says that dementia research is chronically underfunded and the spectrum of dementia diseases, including Alzheimer’s, is greatly misunderstood by the public. It is a disease with no hope, because there is no cure, and it affects millions of Americans directly (and many more indirectly) as our population ages.

See also, this recent NYTimes op-ed by, among others, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

For the First Time, the TSA Meets Resistance

Their goal is to make it as uncomfortable and embarrassing as possible when citizens chose to exercise their right to opt-out of the backscatter x-ray screening device. I chose to refuse the screening the last time I flew, and it was unpleasant enough as it was — they almost didn’t let me board the flight, all because I demanded to be allowed to walk around the backscatter machine, and not through it, in line with my right to refuse the search.

“Yes, but starting tomorrow, we’re going to start searching your crotchal area” — this is the word he used, “crotchal” — and you’re not going to like it.” “What am I not going to like?” I asked. “We have to search up your thighs and between your legs until we meet resistance,” he explained. “Resistance?” I asked. “Your testicles,” he explained.

Not, of course, that any of this makes us the least bit more secure from terrorism.

The Seventeen Magazine Project

“The Seventeen Magazine Project is an attempt to spend one month living according to the gospel of Seventeen Magazine.” It’s actually quite brilliant both on its face and because the precocious 18 year old behind the site is so obviously setting herself up for a book (and eventually movie) deal. Also, this, from the first post: “Full disclosure, I am probably far too self aware for this project to draw any sort of credible conclusion on the effects of teen magazines on teen girls. An initial ‘picture walk’ of this month’s issue seems to point to the idea that sarcasm/cynicism/self-awareness doesn’t exist in the sub-21 world. Nonetheless, I am excited to see where this takes me.”

Attached to Technology and Paying a Price

Another article about technology and disconnectedness, but this cautionary lesson is rife with examples that I can identify with, and I suspect many of my friends can as well. I’m using my laptop at home far less now, instead catching up on news and feeds and Twitter on my iPad, as well as using it for gaming, book reading, and to find recipes. I thought that switching to the iPad was a move in the right direction, a way to be more “present” and less in the thrall of technology. But that may not be the case.

Not everyone needs to go to college

This AP article is poorly written and confusing, but I support the sentiment, and have for years. Four year college is not the right path for everyone, and our society loses out on skilled tradespeople, pushes young people into needless debt, and generally devalues a good blue collar work ethic on favor of bachelors degrees that are not always prudent or useful.

Boston Crosswalk Buttons Don’t Do Anything! Except When They Do

Radio Boston deciphers the pedestrian crosswalk buttons in Boston and Cambridge, with mixed results. This was very frustrating to me last weekend when my parents were in town, as the behavior I was used to from North Cambridge did not apply in East Cambridge and in downtown Boston, and there didn’t seem to be any consistent pattern to the Boston signals, not to mention the Boston drivers who had little respect for pedestrians, and pedestrians who did not mind jumping in the way of moving cars. No doubt these various problems feed on each other in annoying and dangerous ways. For an example of the worst of all worlds, just try driving (or walking!) through Central Square.

A Revolution In School Lunches

Time Magazine profiles Revolution Foods, a for-profit attempting to improve the abysmal American school lunch program by using economies of scale to provide meals incorporating fresh, natural ingredients. Amazing to find out how little the government pays per subsidized lunch. The TV show Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution (no relation to the company) has also been eye-opening, in it’s own way.

The Rise of “Militainment”

A Financial Times article describes how video game technology has replaced or supplemented military training across all US service branches. The costs are lower, the training prospects better, the exercises far safer, but there is a hidden danger: when a gamer makes the transition from video game war to real war, how can he understand how the stakes, and the consequences, have changed?